The power shortage on this year’s Stephenville High School softball squad doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of electricity on the field.
With graduation and other personnel losses, Coach Rus Mayes will be missing about 25 of the team’s school-record 30 home runs from last season out of the middle of his lineup in 2018.
But the Honeybees have two early college signees, along with a multitude of other experienced players — and enough team speed to make good things happen on the bases.
“We’re not going to be as powerful, but we will be faster,” Mayes said. “We’re excited to get it going. We’ll have a new look, but it’s exciting.”
Last season the Honeybees won the District 8-4A crown with an 11-1 mark, and finished the season with a 24-8 record. They were eliminated in a best-of-three series in the area round of the playoffs by Brownwood.
The Honeybees opened their 2018 season last week, beating Comanche before competing in the three-day Brock Tournament. They lost to Salado in the first game Thursday, then lost to Azle, 10-3 in their first game Friday. Later that day, they defeated Midland Christian 12-4, then were edged out by Weatherford, 6-5. On Saturday they defeated Canyon Randall 7-2, and topped Boyd 10-2 for the consolation title.
Two-time district Pitcher of the Year, Julia Flores, is back for her senior season, along with first-team all-district center fielder Morgan DiCiccio. Flores recently signed with East Texas Baptist, and DiCiccio signed with Cisco College.
Nadine Arredondo, who was the District 8-4A Offensive Player of the Year and went on to earn high school All-America status, had the bulk of the team’s power riding on her bat, slugging a school-record 12 homers as a senior. Arredondo is now playing for Bryant & Stratton, a junior college in Virginia.
Flores, selected to play in the Big Country (Abilene area) FCA All-Star game this summer, enters her senior season with 54 pitching victories and is leading so far this season.
“She’s one of the best players that’s come through Stephenville High School,” Mayes said of Flores. “She ranks up there with the elite that’s ever come through. She’s probably our best hitter. She’s definitely a dual threat. She’s got that warrior mentality. She wants to challenge everybody, and she wins most of those challenges.”
Another key loss came with the graduation of catcher Sami Shaffer, who was voted the district’s Catcher of the Year despite missing time with an injury. Shaffer will be playing for Tarleton State this season.
Junior catcher Jessica Howell, a first-team all-district pick in 2017 told Mayes she won’t be playing this season. That opens up an opportunity for freshman catcher Katie McIrvin to get most of the playing time at that spot.
Among the other key returnees are first-team all-district Samantha Luna, who is moving to first base this season, and first-team all-district shortstop Madison Gilder.
Bianka Garcia was a second-team all-district choice last year in the outfield, and has been switched to third base. Skye Gaitan, who pitched some last year, will also get playing time at second base.
Jettie Funderburgh will likely see playing time at both second and in the outfield. Speedy senior Kristen Pettit, who didn’t play before her junior season, will get playing time in the outfield.
Hayes said that in district play, Alvarado should again be a top oppponent, while Godley, Glen Rose and Midlothian Heritage also could be playoff contenders.